birds in blue

birds in blue

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chasing Teri

Chasing Teri

There it is – just out of reach.  I’ve been analyzing my previous failures and adjusting my plan of attack.  This time I’ll do it right.   I will pray in just the right way.  I will read my Bible more often.   I will be kinder.  I will be more generous.  I will spend more time serving in the church.  I will be happier and more grateful.  I will be less selfish.  I will love better and give more.  And this time, God will be pleased! This time I’ll catch it and keep it.  This time I will be at peace.    

What am I chasing?  I am chasing perfection.  And I fail at every attempt.  Even when I try my hardest, I am constantly confronted with my own inadequacy and a feeling that God is disappointed.  Ah, but there is Satan’s lie:  that God expects me to be perfect.  If I buy into that lie, I go round and round in an endless, futile circle like a dog chasing its tail. He is intent on catching that one part of himself that seems unattainable.  Even when he catches it, what is he to do with it?  If he hangs onto it, he continues to go in a circle and he inflicts pain on himself!  If he lets it go, it is a reminder of something that must still be attained, and so the chase begins again.

Trying to be perfect, to be “good enough” keeps my focus on me.  God would have my focus be solely on Him.  He knows that everything I need flows from relationship with Him and everything I’m not has been perfected for me in Jesus Christ.  Therefore, peace comes not from chasing myself for some illusive perfection, but from resting in Jesus and responding to God's grace .  In Jesus, I find complete acceptance as I am, and complete satisfaction in who He is.

C.S. Lewis describes it this way:  “In perfect cyclic movement, being, power and joy descended from God to man in the form of gift and returned from man to God in the form of obedient love and ecstatic adoration.” 

God, give me new eyes to see You and only You.  Remind me to respond to you and to stop chasing myself.  Help me to lay down my expectations of my own perfection and revel in your gift of acceptance.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.”
John 15:5, 9

Friday, December 16, 2011


" keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh…
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ can work through me."   --2 Corinthians 12:7-9

Do you have a “thorn in your flesh”?  Something in your life that makes you limp?  Some thorns poke us and irritate us. Others are a constant source of pain. Many times our thorns bring us to our knees, begging God to take them away and give us relief.  Many times our thorns hold us prisoner in the “why” of it all.

My "thorn in the flesh" is depression.  It is an invisible thorn that has quietly embedded itself under the surface and remains hidden until the surrounding environment is ripe for it to flare up.  I can trace evidences of it back to my adolescence and am finally convinced that this is a thorn I will not be rid of.

My thorn causes me shame and most of the time I am successful at keeping it hidden.  But the aposle Paul said he chose to boast about his thorn.  Paul had some fantastic spiritual experiences that could have been the theme for his testimony - supernatural things God had done in his life – things very few people had experienced. He had every right to boast about these experiences and God would have been glorified in his story.  But Paul chose to boast only in his weaknesses, because he wanted his message to be relatable and “thorns” are universal.

In dealing repeatedly with his own thorn, Paul came to realize that  “divine power is best displayed against the backdrop of human weaknesses*.”  To Paul, there was a better message than, “Look what fantastic things have happened to me.”  It was, “I am consistently weak and God’s grace is consistenly enough.”  His power is activated by our inabilities, and He receives glory in a way that gives others hope. 

“When Paul came to the end of himself,
Christ alone was seen."*

While we would never choose them for ourselves, our thorns bring a greater depth to our lives.  Pain makes us seek God.  Need makes us search.  What we find is God’s grace -not always relief, but the grace to put one foot in front of the other.  Our perspective is changed from helplessness to hope when God gives us answers we didn’t expect and strength we could never muster on our own.

"So I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions,
and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Cor. 12:10

* Quotes are taken from David K. Lowrey, Bible Knowledge Commentary

Friday, November 18, 2011

Raggedy Ann

I grew up technology free.  My favorite childhood toys were books and dolls that inspired imagination in my play and developed a nurturing spirit in my heart.  My favorite doll was Raggedy Ann. I recently had a desire to see her again,  so I opened the trunk that holds touchable memories and there she was, nestled cozily on top of a soft quilt, beaming up at me with that painted smile and those shiny, black button eyes!

As I held her in my hands, the child in me was recreated and I reveled in the sight of her familiarity.  Her little white apron adorned a classic, blue flowered dress; red and white stockings ended in black shoe-feet and a large loop of red yarn was the crowning glory on top of her head. She was exactly as I remembered:  perfect!
Of course there were other things I didn’t notice at first glance.  A faint, brown stain rimmed her mouth.  Her red yarn hair was faded, worn and matted.   The ribbon that fastened her apron was no more than a blue string.  Ann’s bloomers had lost their elasticity and kept creeping down around her candy-stripe legs. (Poor thing!) The years of loving had taken their toll on her.
One thing about Ann has remained miraculously intact:  the red heart on her chest.   It still boldly reads “I Love You”.  As a child, I loved to hunt for it under the folds of her dress to be sure it was still there.  It was like a sweet secret between us that I could “find” anytime I wished.  It never changed; it always read the same thing, “I love you”.  And I loved Ann because she said it first.

Raggedy Ann reminds me of how God must see us -  worn ragged by trying to be "enough" in a world of all things shiny and sophisticated.  But God sees our imperfections as an invitation for His grace.  He asks us to come to Him exactly as we are – stained faces and saggy bloomers – so that He can love us into the image of Christ. 

And our hearts say, “I love You”, because He said it first.

We love him, because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19